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When an American in the IDF meets a Palestinian American in Hebron

An American serving in the Israeli army in Hebron says that in her job granting and denying Palestinians permission to work and travel, it’s a ‘conversation starter’ to meet Palestinians who back home would have full rights like her.

The video below was published Sunday by COGAT, the unit of the Israeli Defense Ministry charged with administering the military occupation of the Palestinian territories. COGAT has a rich history of producing tone-deaf videos seemingly meant to do little more than make COGAT look like the benevolent arm of the occupation, for which Palestinians should be nothing but grateful. (See here, here, and here.)

The videos are almost too easy to rip apart. Indeed, nearly every line in this latest video could warrant an entire article dissecting its obscene distortion and white-washing of reality. A dissertation could be written just about the self-aggrandizing image of the benevolent occupier.

But let’s forget about all of that for a moment and just focus on one line. One sentence.

This particular video is about Alyse, an American immigrant to Israel who serves in the IDF’s oxymoronically named Civil Administration, a part of COGAT. Soldiers in the Civil Administration and COGAT determine where Palestinians may live, where and when they may travel (including to other parts of the occupied territories like Gaza and East Jerusalem), whether they can build or expand homes on their own land, whether they own that land at all, whether an Israeli settler can steal that land, whether two soccer teams from different parts of Palestine can play each other, and on and on.

At one point in the video, Alyse, who hails from Chicago and is now stationed in Hebron, notes that it’s “a huge conversation starter” to meet Palestinians who are also from the United States.

“It’s always interesting to meet people who are so different than me yet have such a similar background,” she says.

The video speaks for itself. But here are two things to ponder:

1. What exactly is a “conversation starter” when someone with no rights is begging a soldier in a foreign occupying army for permission to travel or work? What does that “conversation” look like? How “interesting” is it that the person standing on the other side of the glass with almost no rights could have, just a few weeks earlier, been riding next to her on the L with equal civil rights and protections?

2. Does Alyse ever think about what the difference actually is between her and those people with such a “similar background?” Does she think about how — in the situation she chose to enter — privilege, power, and basic rights like free movement and due process are determined almost exclusively by one’s ethnicity and religion of one’s parents?

Is it “interesting” for her to think about why one population in the city where she is stationed needs the permission of a foreign army just to travel or work, while the other population needs no permission from anyone at all?

Does she ever think about what that system would be called if it were imposed back in Chicago? Or which side of the glass she might be on if it were?

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    1. Itshak Gordine

      Foreign army? The Judea Samaria are part of Eretz Israel. Hebron is a holy Jewish city. There are the graves of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Lea. The author of this text probably ignores who are these patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people. He also seems to ignore the horrible massacre committed by the Arabs against the Jews in this city in 1929 that we commemorated a few days ago.

      Reply to Comment
      • Joe Douglas

        Modern Jews are not related to the patriarchs. The only people who have that genetic connection are the Palestinians. They are the offspring of Jacob. The Canaanites never used violence against the israelites. It was the israelites who tried to genocide the Canaanites, but the israelites were wiped out instead. “The violence of the wicked drags them away, because they refuse to do right.” Israel has been destroyed twice because it did not follow God’s command to treat other people with kindness. Psalm 37 explains what happened to the obedient and disobedient. The massacre in 1929 was most likely committed by zionists dressed as Arabs, like the bombing of the King David Hotel, done by zionists dressed in Arab clothing.

        Reply to Comment
        • Itshak Gordine

          Well, we are dealing with a negationist in a site that claims to be Jewish .. The travesty of history seems to be your specialty ..

          Reply to Comment
          • Joe Douglas

            ‘Negationist???’ That’s a new one. I’m just giving a different spin on facts, which have been ignored in israel’s rush to take over Palestine. It is my prayer that israelis will come to their senses and stop mistreating the Palestinian people, before it is too late…for israel.

            Reply to Comment
    2. diana

      There’s so much wrong in this video holy shit! Where to begin??

      Reply to Comment
      • john

        theoretically, all americans have visa-free travel to israel – when they arrive, some get to hold the gun, others must submit their papers.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Ben

      “…they seem like they really need the assistance that we’re giving them and it does make me feel good to know that I have expedited their process of getting the help that they need.”

      No words to describe the unbelievable Orwellian phoniness of this burbling by this American. A classic. Mindless, reality-inverting propaganda in the service of an extremely cruel system and she cheerfully does it.

      Reply to Comment
      • itshak Gordine

        Of course not. It is a Jewish holy city that the Arabs lost because of their aggression against Israel. It is a city that is part of the historical, national and religious heritage of the Jewish people. We know that its Arab inhabitants do not like Jews very much (they massacred Jews there in 1929). The administration has chosen charming people like this Israeli to help them in all their administrative procedures. On the contrary, I find it very good and it will facilitate coexistence.

        Reply to Comment
        • Michael

          Conquest of territory is generally frowned upon post WWII, aggression or no.

          Reply to Comment
      • Rivka Koen

        Strong Dolores Umbridge vibes from that one

        Reply to Comment
    4. qwerty

      80% of Hebron is under full Palestinian Authority control (Area A) and off limits to Israelis. The PA side of the city has shopping malls, universities, a sports arena and thousands of businesses. Palestinian Authority residents are not Israeli citizens. The checkpoints were created in the Hebron Accords of 1997 which were signed by Israel and the PA as mediated by the United States. There is daily business interaction between the two. PA Hebron exports tens of thousands of shekels worth of exports to Israel such a shoes, plasticware, mattresses and other goods. Here’s an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wdF9-pSdtg

      Reply to Comment
    5. Lewis from Afula

      One side has no rights because they started several wars aimed at the other side’s extermination. Furthermore, after their last attempted genocide failed, the bastards re-named themselves for purely tactical purposes.

      It is entirely just that the aggressors should pay a price for their past and ongoing crimes.

      Reply to Comment
      • Rivka Koen

        Tsu ale rukhes, you’re back. I was hoping you’d turned 18 already and been sacrificed to Donald Molech Yisrael by the IDF.

        Reply to Comment
        • Lewis from Afula

          Yes, we speak Ivrit in Israel.
          It would help if you knew it, rather than some pseudo-Yiddish variant.

          Reply to Comment
          • Rivka Koen

            Ivrit, what’s that? Some sort of pseudo-3ivrith variant?

            Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            Ivrit is the native language of the Land of Israel
            Something you know nothing about.

            Reply to Comment
          • Rivka Koen

            /ˈʔɛrɛsˤ jisrɔˈʔel/ can talk now?

            Reply to Comment
    6. Ben

      To Itshak Gordine Halevy, Lewis from Afula, and Qwerty:

      Yes, foreign army, Halevy. You’ll have to accept this, as hard as that is for you. Facts are stubborn things. A ritual incantation of the Patriarchs, which both Jews and Muslims revere, does not change that. Nor is it something Michael Omer-Man “ignores.” He just doesn’t seize on it because he is not a simple-minded zealot. Michael is intelligent and deeply informed, and he is as Israeli as you are and as Jewish as you are. Ponder that.

      And Halevy, when Baruch Goldstein perpetrated the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre he was showing how much he likes Arabs? Yes? You gonna berate Michael Omer-Man for not mentioning the Goldstein massacre too?

      Both you and Lewis from Afula should drop your totally unconvincing “because of their aggression” propaganda. No one who is even minimally informed believes it. It sounds as convincing as the burbling Alyse from Chicago. Which is not at all.

      And Qwerty, your “80% of Hebron is under full Palestinian control” chirpiness likewise does not even begin to describe the chokehold ruthless settlers and their army have on the city.

      Please, please, please, all of you, for once in your lives engage in an honest reckoning of what you are doing in the occupied territories. The soldier in the Breaking the Silence video that you can find on the Cogat link, who says, basically, “this is what we do in your name, mothers of sons who thought you were proud of us, we just didn’t tell you before,” is telling the truth. You are not.

      Reply to Comment
      • Lewis from Afula

        I notice that 972 mag has not mentioned the rocket attacks yesterday night on the several thousand Israeli civilians gathering at an outside concert in Sderot. Fortunately, nobody got killed but that was due to pure luck.

        Ben is deafeningly quiet on this attempted mass murder by his Hamastani friends.
        My guess is that Ben is simply ignorant of it.
        972 mag, Haaretz, Mondoweiss et al., have simply omitted this event and Ben’s brain is none the wiser.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Meanwhile Abbas and his security people continue to thwart all sorts of attacks on Israelis and get no thanks in return, get treated with contempt, get treated far worse than Hamas and manipulatively played off against Hamas. This is diagnostic. Of the Israeli regime and its true goals. When will the voters in Sderot wise up? Or change their goals?

          Reply to Comment
          • itshak Gordine

            In a speech delivered a few days ago near Ramallah, Holocaust denier Abbas claimed that the Jewish people have no rights over the Land of Israel. This sinister individual is very representative of those of whom he is the president.

            Reply to Comment
      • itshak Gordine

        hese few words to confirm what has been repeated many times. Judea and Samaria are the cradle of our people. The majority of Israelis are attached to it. We will fight with all our strength against those who try to distort history to appropriate our heritage. And I’ll never be tired of saying it again: No one heard of a “Palestinian people” until the 1960s.

        Reply to Comment
        • Rivka Koen

          Your heritage was invented in think tanks, workshops, and committee meetings, and you’re destroying the only authentic expressions of Judaism (the many Diaspora cultures) in a violent effort to assert the primacy of your phony return to the womb.

          Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            Yes, Rivka.
            The entire Tanach was invented in think tanks, workshops, and committee meetings.
            In contrast, Reform and Conservative Judaism – which is undergoing runaway intermarriage, assimilation, low birthrates and collapsing memberships – is a genuine form of Judaism.

            Ha Ha Ha !

            Reply to Comment
          • Rivka Koen

            “Israeli” culture isn’t the Tanach; in fact, the Tanach isn’t important to most Israelis. This is why both Labor and Likkud follow secular forms of Zionism, as does Gantz: Judaism for Israelis, like Judaism for the Diaspora, is largely a matter of ethnicity, not religion. Zionism is actually much more radical in this regard than any non-Orthodox form of Judaism in the Diaspora, since these Diaspora non-Orthodox Judaisms generally see religion as important to Jewish identity.

            Israel’s non-religiosity is why a large number of Haredim in Israel continue to speak Yiddish and insulate themselves from mainstream Israeli culture, which they view in ways that run the gamut from tolerance to hostility. It’s also why your right-wing parties are having a very hard time forming a government right now, if you weren’t aware. I’m honestly never sure if you’re really from Afula or if you’re just some far-right troll regurgitating bad talking points that appeal mostly to Evangelical Christians.

            What would make you believe Israeli culture was the Tanach? You don’t speak the Hebrew of the Tanach, nor even of the Mishnah. Your pronunciation of Hebrew is less authentic than that of both Ashkenazim and Sephardim; you have both the oversimplified 5-vowel system of Sephardim and the lack of a proper ayin sound found in Ashkenazi Hebrew. You certainly aren’t led by a Sanhedrin or even any sort of religiously Jewish government. You aren’t bound by halacha except in matters of marriage.

            Your secular culture was invented in committees, workshops, and think tanks. And in journals of 19th-century Haskallah intellectuals. The many Diaspora Judaisms, secular and religious, have evolved gradually over time to suit the needs of their communities.

            Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            Three quarters of the World’s Jewish kids llve in Israel.
            The future is already known.
            In the meantime, go back to decorating your Xmass trees !

            Reply to Comment
          • Rivka Koen

            Like all leftist Jews outside of your imagination, I’ve never decorated an xmas tree in my life, nor have I ever said “Judeo-Christian values” unironically. There aren’t many far-right Jews who can say the same.

            In fact, the only time I hear about Jews decorating Xmas trees is when they’re Chabadniks who didn’t grow up with any sort of Jewish education whatsoever but were brainwashed later in life into becoming electoral tools of far-right Lubavitchers. The wasted lives of the gullible.

            Reply to Comment
          • Rivka Koen

            Personally I think people in the Baal Teshuva cult just make the Christmas tree stories up to fit in, just like everyone in AA has the same stories and they always get more and more exaggerated.

            Reply to Comment
          • Joe Douglas

            5 The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 6 They took their daughters in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.” Judges 3:5-6 Remember the story about the Israelites intermarrying with the Canaanites? It happened again during the Second Temple Period. So much for the ‘conquest of Canaan.’

            Reply to Comment
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